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  • The Chances Are Slim, But You CAN Get Pregnant When You Have Sex During Your Period

    There is some truth to getting pregnant through frequent sex, even on red days.
    by Rachel Perez .
The Chances Are Slim, But You CAN Get Pregnant When You Have Sex During Your Period
PHOTO BY iStock
  • There is no judgment here. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but having sex even when you have your period happens. (There are ways to make it not as messy as you think.) If you've done it, you might be worried about your chances of getting pregnant whether you want it or avoiding it.

    Science dictates that women have higher chances of getting pregnant when she and her partner engage in sex during the woman’s ovulation or fertile days. Many women believe they can never get pregnant when they have sex during their menstrual period.

    “Most likely, you will not get pregnant having sex during your period,” according to the American Pregnancy Associaton. But it is still possible — albeit less common — to get pregnant if you have unprotected sex during your period, according to Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organization that provides and delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information globally.

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    Yes, a woman's period days are not her most fertile ones because they’re typically days away from her ovulation day. But never say “never,” as the saying goes.

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    How can you get pregnant if you have sex during your period

    Ovulation happens when a mature egg is released from one of a woman’s ovaries and moves to the fallopian tube where it can be fertilized by a sperm. It usually occurs 14 days before the first day of your next period. If your menstrual cycle is the typical 26 to 34 days, then ovulation is approximately halfway through your cycle. (Click here to know how long it lasts and here for signs that you're ovulating.)

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    Before ovulation, increasing hormones in a woman’s body will thicken the lining of her uterus to prepare it for implantation or when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the woman’s uterus. If the egg is not fertilized, the thickened uterus lining is shed. Together with the egg, it is flushed out of your system as your period.

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    Now, a woman’s egg, once released, is only viable for fertilization for 24 hours. A man’s sperm, on the other hand, can stay alive in the cervix for up to five days.

    If you have unprotected sex right before or early in your period...

    Your chances of conceiving if you have sex days before your period drops after ovulation as the egg is only viable for 24 hours after it’s released. But since the unfertilized egg comes out with the uterine lining as the woman’s period, she can still get pregnant when having sex during her period, according to Michele Hakakha, M.D., co-author of Expecting 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Pregnancy. The chances are slim, though, especially if you have your period for two to eight-days.

    If you have unprotected sex during your period even if it's on the last day

    “Even in a woman who has a 28-day cycle, the day ovulation starts can vary from month to month,” according to What To Expect. This means that having unprotected sex during your period, even if it’s on the last day, does not guarantee that there is absolutely no sperm that has remained alive in your cervix by the time you ovulate next. If you ovulate three days after your period, you can get pregnant, since sperm can stay alive for up to five days.

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    Likewise, if you’re using contraceptive pills, having unprotected sex during your placebo pill days, or when you’re not taking any pills (which are the days you expect your period to arrive), does not guarantee that you’re safe from getting pregnant. The Pill, even when taken correctly and diligently, is still not 100% effective.

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    If you have unprotected sex during your period if you have an irregular menstrual cycle

    If a woman has an irregular period or a menstrual cycle that is shorter or longer than 26 to 34 days or varies each month, it’s harder to predict when ovulation occurs. With the sperm’s life span, you can get pregnant when you have sex at any time of the month.

    Some women also experience breakthrough spotting or bleeding between periods. This can happen during ovulation, and a woman may think it’s her period, which makes it difficult to establish where she is in her menstrual cycle.

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    This is good news for couples getting pregnant. There is some truth in the advice that having sex often may lead a sperm to the egg at some point, but it’s still not the best way to go about it. If you’re avoiding pregnancy, it’s best to just have intercourse during your safe days or always use protection.

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